"Take my advice - I'm not using it"
Peter Lundt

Index: (click on the article you seek and it should jump there.  Or just scroll and browse)

How To Make Your Bottom Pretty                                                                        Alscore scoring program

Buying a Used Laser by Allan Broadribb                                                                Mast step repair photos

Outside Winter Storage in Snow                                                                            Laser Tuning Chart

What's My Serial Number? / Sail Number? / Year Built??                                    New November 2008 Laser and Sunfish Foils repairs page

Removing Old Paint From My Boat                                                                     Boatyard Tools Explained

Repairing the Bailer

Rebuilding an Old Laser by Allan Broadribb

Straightening a Bent Centerboard or Rudder

Fred's Rigging Photos

Outside Winter Storage??

Photos taken in Union City, PA in  February 1976.  There are two boats.  Green and black poles are the 5 foot tall mast supports on the front of the trailers.

It is important to support your boat properly if it is to hold this load for many months
     The boats in the photo were stored safely and they sustained no damage whatsoever.  The key considerations are proper support and the expansion of water as it turns to ice.  I will address the ice concern first.

     Snow or rain will fall throughout the winter in most of North America.  Neither the rain or the snow will damage the gelcoat or boat structure.  The damage comes from freezing and thawing and .... worst of all freezing again.  There is probably nothing more damaging that ice and water can do to your boat than those damages made by expansion in confined spaces.

     If your mast step fills with water and freezes, the expansion may stretch and crack the mast tube.  If the ice partially thaws and water gathers between the solid ice chunk and the walls of the step, re- freezing can be disastrous.  Considering that in a typical winter your boat could experience freezing and thawing as many as 100 times, you must be careful not to allow water to gather inside any confined space.

     We covered the mast steps with a couple fancy plywood devices that looked the roof of a little birdhouse.  The underside had a rubber fitting that sealed the top of the mast step tube. 

     The trailers supported the boats by the gunwales. For winter storage we added a couple extra gunwale supports on each side of the boats.  The extras were simply "U" shaped devices made from three pieces of 2 X 6 lumber.  They sat on the trailer and helped spread the load.

     The cockpit was covered with another piece of plywood that sat on 2 X 4s laid across the boat. We also placed wood blocks under the axles so that the tires would not be sitting stressed in one place for an entire winter.

     In 1979 I finally learned that this was a really stupid thing to do with a boat for the entire winter.  I moved to Austin and I rarely store my boat for an entire week without using it at least once. I have found lots of time to sail during the "winter" because I can drive my car out of the garage without first spending an hour or more shoveling snow out of the way.

 Maintenance Page Index

Buying a Used Laser by Allan Broadribb

If I'd had a hundred used boats this past summer, I'd have sold them all, easily. There's a big demand for used boats and, it seems, a small supply.

I guess the reason for the demand is quite simple, you can get a competitive Laser with a good sail for half the price of a new one and interestingly enough, the value of a used boat in good shape seems to have more to do with the cost of a new boat than what the owner originally paid for it.

Having had so many calls about used boats I've developed some guidelines, here they are:


Check the transom of the boat for the serial number, it'll look something like this! PFS 800000779

The first three characters denote the builder as follows. This is from memory but it's fairly accurate:

PFS - Performance Sailcraft in Montreal. Boats built from about 1971-82

ZFS - Performance Sailcraft in Montreal after they went bankrupt and refinanced. Boats built from about 1982-85.

ZID - Performance Sailcraft in Hawkesbury, Ontario, after they went bankrupt and refinanced again. Boats built from about 1985-89.

PSB - Pearson Small Boats, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, after another bankruptcy by Performance Sailcraft. Boats built from about 1989-91.

SLI - Sunfish Laser Inc., Portsmouth, Rhode Island, after Pearson Yachts and Pearson Small Boats declared bankruptcy. Boats built from about June 1991 - March 1997.

OQT - Vanguard Sailboats Inc., Portsmouth, Rhode Island took over building Lasers and Sunfish from Sunfish Laser.

The next five characters are the sail number, in this case 80000, which was my first Laser. If the first character is a letter than the sail number is over 100,000. A=10, B=11, C=12, etc. followed by the next four numbers.

The last four characters denote the month and year the boat was built.

So now you know how to tell who built the boat, the real sail number and when it was built.

 Maintenance Page Index


Check the obvious. Is it clean? Has it been looked after? A 10 year old boat that has had covers put on it all the time will probably be in better shape than a 4 year old boat left out in the sun all day in Florida.

Check the stiffness of the deck, especially the area where you sit to hike and the bottom of the cockpit. Do this by pushing on the deck with both palms side by side. If it moves you'll know it's soft. The deck is a sandwich of foam between fiberglass with gel coat on the top. When it's all stuck together this is really stiff but the fiberglass can delaminate from the foam, which is the reason it will move.

If you want a demonstration of "soft", go down to your club and find some of those old boats that have been on the racks for donkeys years, you'll find one of them which will give you a good demonstration.

Check for water in the hull by opening the transom drain plug and lifting the bow. Absence of water doesn't mean it doesn't leak, but if water gushes out you might want to know why. It's tough to check for leaks unless you can sail the boat. Of course if the owner will let you take the boat for a sail then go for it.

Leaks can usually be fixed easily enough. Run some epoxy around the deck/hull joint. Pull all the screws in the boat with an electric screwdriver then put them all back with silicone. If they are stripped out then through bolt the fittings. Check the cockpit drain plug area, you have to pull out the bailer to do this. Take out the brass tube, silicone the joint and put it back. Check the joint between the hull and check at the top of the centerboard slot. You'll have to epoxy this if you think it leaks as silicone will cause friction with the board.

The mast step can be a problem area. If it has been replaced then that's OK, it's probably stronger than new. If not and the bottom looks worn then you might want to put an inspection port in to reinforce the bottom of the tube where it meets the hull. To do this you chip out the original glue, sand off the shiny resin and then make a strong joint with fiberglass.

Your hull should weight about 130 pounds. Don't necessarily look for a light boat, you are sacrificing stiffness and durability for an insignificant gain in speed. However you probably don't want a 150 lb Laser.

If you're going to race, check the mast rake. Put the bottom section (make sure it's not bent) in the mast step. Hook the end of your tape on the back of the top of the top section and measure to the center of the transom. It should be around 12'-6 1/2". Now, you have to understand that the mast rake is hearsay, the manufacturer's technical specification is not published. There are probably boats which are different and go fast. Check the mast rake especially if the mast step has been replaced.


It's critical that the bottom and top sections of the mast are straight. (The only exception is the 4.7 rig which has a pre-bent bottom section.) Roll the top section on a flat surface to see if it has a slight bend at the collar. It's nice if the boom is straight, but it'll probably have a slight downward bend in it at the vang key. Don't worry about loose fittings too much, you can always rivet those back on or through bolt them. Replace plastic clam cleats with aluminum.


Check that the blades are straight with no chunks missing from them. If the tiller is made of wood you can always buy a new one. 


Make sure the sail has the red Laser patch near the clew, if not it's not legal for racing and you'll have to buy a new one. If it's a rag you'll have to buy one anyway if you plan to race.


If the lines aren't too great than you'll probably need to replace them. Try one of our advertisers for a line kit. If you race then you'll need a bailer and decent tiller and extension. You should also get an anti friction plate to drop in the mast step. Ask about the race record for the boat, it might help, but take into account who sailed it!!!


You're happy with the boat. I can't tell you what to pay for it as prices seem to vary across the country. I do think you should be able to get out racing in a reasonably equipped competitive Laser for about half the cost of a new boat. Used boats which have been taken in exchange by Laser dealers usually cost more than Lasers purchased privately, but on the other hand the dealers will usually put the boat in good shape and back the product to a certain extent afterward.

When deciding on price take into account whether you'll have to buy a new sail, line kit, tiller, bailer, etc.. Also take into account the extras that come with the boat like a carry all bag, top and bottom cover, spare sail, trailer, dolly, etc... Check the prices of all these items in the ads in this newsletter to get a general idea of what they are worth. Oops! I nearly forgot, you might need a mainsheet ratchet block and cleats!


Check the classified ads in the Laser Sailor for something near you. Check your daily newspaper. Check the notice board at your club. Check with your local Laser dealer. Last year at the Midwinters in Sarasota I wrote to all the Laser owners in the club to see if they would charter their boats. Ten said yes, three of them told me they'd be interested in selling their boats, I didn't even have to ask. All three were sold. So head down to your local club and get a list of owners and you're on your way!


You've got a Laser sitting on the rack and don't use it. Why not recycle it? There are lots of people out there looking for used boats. Give us a call and we'll run it FREE in The Laser Sailor classified ads, even if you're not a member. You can also have your district secretary advertise it in the district newsletter, or advertise it in your daily newspaper. copyright A.Broadribb

Maintenance Page Index

How To Make Your Bottom Pretty

            written by Fred Schroth and edited by half of the people he knows 

            After my humbling experiences in recent attempts at racing sailboats, I have decided to write about the only subject in which I remain at the front of the fleet.  If you carefully follow the directions put forth in this article, you can have the nicest bottom in your fleet. 

            First, you must acquire the proper attitude about taking care of your boat.   If you still pull your boat up on a dock without first checking for nails, screws and gravel, don’t  even bother reading this article.  Your Laser only has about enough gelcoat for two bottom rescue jobs. Don’t do the first one until you are ready to do whatever it takes to keep from scratching it again.  Save the second for the shine that sells the worn out hull to the next owner.  There is nothing wrong with selling your worn out boat when you buy a new one, but at least save the new guy a pretty hull.   


            1.  a place to work for about 12 hours that can be washed down with water                            afterwards

            2.  gelcoat to match your hull and catalyst

            3.  acetone

            4.  buffing compound (Dupont 101, Acme 50, 3M Super Heavy Duty, or a similar                           grit)

            5.  a sharp knife

            6.  cardboard cut in a bout 10” x 10” squares

            7.  stir sticks (popsicle sticks)

            8.  a bucket and water

            9.  12 chunks of terry cloth (cut up old bath towels into 8 chunks each)

            10.  wet-sand paper in 320, 400, 500, 600, 800, 1000, and 1500 grits.  If your                             scratches are particularly large or numerous you may also want 180 and                                    240 grit papers.  For whichever grit you use first you will need about 5                                     sheets.  For the other grits you will need about 1 sheet each.

            11.  Gel Gloss or TR 500

            12.  Maguire's Deep Crystal paste wax

            13.  a squeegee ( I use a Thalco laminators squeegee but a good window                                       squeegee will do the job)

            14.  a pencil

            15.  cleansers (Comet or Ajax)

            16.  sanding blocks (I use a 9” block from an automotive paint supplier) 


            The boat needs to be supported upside down at a height where you can stand over it for hours and hours and hours.  You don’t want to damage the boat or your back.     

1)   Read all of these directions before you do anything to your boat.  If you don’t understand the directions, or if you have any trouble making the various steps come out correctly, take your boat to a professional and get it done right. 

2)  Wash the boat with a good cleanser and then clean it again with acetone. 

3)  Every scratch that you can feel will need to be filled.  Use a sharp knife and lightly re-gouge the scratches.  Your scraping should create dust, not chunks.  You must have a freshly roughened surface so your repairs can adhere to the grooves. 

4)  Blow away the dust and wash the boat again with acetone.  Make sure that you have removed every last particle .  If your repairs are made over a dirty surface the repairs will stick to the dirt but not to your boat. 

5)  Test the gelcoat to make sure it doesn’t set up too fast or too slowly by mixing a small amount on your cardboard.  Dribble a half dollar size disk of gelcoat off a stir stick.  Then dribble a pea sized amount of catalyst into the center of the gelcoat and mix it as well as you can.  Scrape, wipe, smear and swirl that puddle of material until you are sure that it is mixed.  Play with the stuff for 15  minutes to make sure that it isn’t becoming hard too fast--if it sets up too fast you won’t have time to apply it to the boat.  Catalyzed gel coat can get really hot.  Set the cardboard down somewhere where it can’t start a fire if it ignites. Go away for an hour.  When you get back the surface of the puddle should be sticky but the material underneath should have hardened.   To see if it is hard, fold the cardboard.   The puddle should break.  If your test batch matches this description, you have learned how to mix gelcoat.   If the gelcoat didn’t cure, start with a new batch and either add more catalyst or find a warmer place to do your work. 

6)  Once you have learned to mix the gelcoat, mix a fresh batch.  Using your stir stick or an artists brush, paint each of the scratches.  Just try to fill the gouges level with the boat surface.  This may take a couple of passes between which you need to go away for a soda or a beer depending on your age and preference.  Do not wait more than a couple of hours, period. 

7)  After you are convinced that all the scratches are filled, put on one more coat.  This last coat can be mixed with a little extra catalyst to hurry along the process.  Gelcoat does not fully cure when it is exposed to moisture in the air, so this last coat is to help cure the sticky part of the previous layer.  This is a good place to stop for the night to allow the gelcoat to harden. 

8)  Fold one of your terry cloth pieces and soak it with acetone.  (It’s nice if your terry cloth is a contrasting color to the hull.)  Wipe off the part of your gelcoat that will soak easily free.   Keep wiping until the towel shows no more color coming off.  If you have lots of scratches this may take a couple of towels.  You will also need a fresh towel to wash the sticky stuff off your hands.  

9)  It is time to use sandpaper.  Sandpaper can follow the contour or the surface and remove the softest part, or it can ride gently over the surface, trimming off only the high spots.  YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE RULES:   

                        Use Sharp Sandpaper!  

                        Do Not Press Down Hard!


10)  It is time to sand off the extra gelcoat.  Use sharp sandpaper.  Do not press down hard.  Ideally, you will use the finest grit that your patience will allow and a wood block.  You will sand away the excess gelcoat without ever touching the adjacent pristine surface  of your boat.   I usually accomplish this task with as tiny a wood block as I can hold and a lot of brand new sandpaper.  The sandpaper should not touch anything other than your repair until the excess is almost totally removed.  Be patient.  Use sharp paper.   Do not press down hard.  I recommend 320 or 240 for this step.  Stop often and look at how you are doing.  Remember that you do not want to sand anything except the stuff sticking out above the scratch.  Occasionally you should use your squeegee to dry the work area.  Stop.  Look and feel how you are doing.

            Let me digress a moment here.  What I just described can be more easily accomplished using dry sandpaper.  I use the white or gold type of paper.  However, if you choose to sand dry you will be creating a lot of dust and adequate protection is necessary.  You will need a protective mask and the work area will be coated by your dust.  The advantage of dry sanding is that you can wipe away the dust and see exactly where you have sanded.

11)  When all the repairs are flat and level with the hull surface it is time to begin working on the whole hull.   Do not begin sanding the whole hull until you have finished sanding all the individual scratches.  You need the shiny surface of the hull as a reference until the heavy sanding is finished so that you don’t make the surface wavy.

            Now it’s time to get all the ripples off the entire hull.  As long as you can smell styrene inside your boat the plastic is shrinking, becoming more crystalline and just plain getting uglier. You want to remove all the tiny ripples that your boat has developed as the plastic has continued to cure since it left the production mold. Remember that you are not attempting nor are you allowed to change the shape of your boat.  This is a cosmetic repair, not a speed enhancement. 

            I usually start the whole hull job with 320 paper.  Using a soft rubber block, I sand at 45 degrees to the centerline until the entire hull is a consistent, dull finish with all of the sanding scratches parallel.  The reason to keep all of the scratches parallel is so that when you switch to another grade of sandpaper, you can sand in a different direction and know when you have removed all of the scratches from the previous grade.

            It’s graffiti time.  Use a pencil to make marks all over your hull.  When Eric Faust does this part he creates cartoons and other nonsense, but lazy guys like me just scribble.  The object is to make enough pencil marks so that it is easy to tell where you have and have not already sanded.  Turn your sanding to the other 45 degree angle and shift up to your next finer grade of paper.  Sand away all the pencil marks and then inspect your work.   All the sanding scratches should run in the new direction.  In areas where the old scratches still show, pencil and sand again.                        

            Repeat the penciling and sanding with 400, 500, 600, 800, 1000, 1200 and 1500 grit papers.  You can skip grits or stop at a heavier grit but your boat will not be as shiny if you don’t use the whole series.  To make your bottom heavenly, you have to sand the hell out of it.   

12)  Now, smear buffing compound all over the hull and with one of your clean pieces of terry cloth, rub it until   you are sick of rubbing.  Rubbing compounds work a lot like sink cleansers--the more you stroke the surface the better the final appearance. 

13)  Using water and a clean rag, rinse off the remaining compound. 

14)  Apply Gel Gloss according to the directions on the can.  If you are not paranoid about the possible loss of boat speed you may also want to wax your boat.  When you go to a really important event in fresh water, you may wish to remove the wax with a strong detergent.  I think that a hull coated with Gel Gloss is faster than a good clean hull in brackish water.  I don’t like to have crud stick to my hull--I think it probably slows my boat down.  When sailing in Lake Pontchatrain a J-24 coated with Gel Gloss will remain clean for a week while boats without Gel Gloss acquire a nasty yellow coating.  Make your own decision. 

            A final note: the gelcoat on your hull is only thick enough to endure this process a couple of times.  If you aren’t sure that you will take care of your boat starting immediately, do not waste the repair opportunity now.

            Next time you  are approaching the starting line you can strike fear into the competition by having your boat glare at the other sailors.

Maintenance Page Index

Pronunciation guide: Americanized Schroth rhymes with both. Original German Schroth rhymes with boat

Feedback report follows:

I used the bottom repair guide from the Laser FAQ on my 76 Laser for filling and fairing. The whole process was pretty slow, mainly because it was hot out and I applied a large amount of gelcoat that didn't have enough catalyst.

I had lots of scratches and following the guide the X-acto knife soon didn't have the endurance. I tuned to an engrave made by Dremel and was able to clean up the scratches very quickly. I sent a gelcoat sample to GCP International in Washington for a gelcoat match. The match was very close, the only setback was that it was 94$s for a quart. If it really matters this it the way to go, but if not-- use white. I used an orbital air sander with wet sand 320 grit when I grew tired of hand sanding, and that helped speed things along. 

For somebody attempting this project in the future:
Make sue to use PLENTY of catalyst as you will be VERY sorry if the gelcoat sets up too soft. 
If you have a fairly sizable project ahead invest in a cheap engraver.
Bondo applicators work well for applying the gelcoat.
Don't use a grit less than 240. You will put fairly sizable scratches in your hull otherwise.
Sharp sandpaper makes the job go much easier. 
Use a stiff sanding block or drywall sander to take off the high spots.
And last but CERTAINLY not least- don't try to fill the scratches in one huge heaping load of gelcoat. It is very hard to take off. Use thin layers with plenty of hardener. You will be much happier.

Hope this helps you that plan on filling your scratches.

See you on the course. I will be sailing the blue Laser with no scratches on the hull.


Maintenance Page Index

Removing old Paint question and a long answer
I bought a used Laser and it looks like someone painted the hull at some 
time. It is falling off in flakes, looks like crap and is all rough and nasty. If I 
were to use chemical paint stripper would it damage the fiberglass or do I 
have to sand the whole thing down before I re-gelcoat the hull? How hard is 
it to apply gel coat and get a nice finish?




Most paint strippers will harm the gelcoat finish on your boat. Even the ones like Pintoff from Interlux are brutal to the plastic. The plastic is attacked a bit by the chemicals and either remains permanently soft or dries to permanently too crystalline. I wouldn't use a stripper for those reasons.

But there is more. Toxicity and your one and only birth issued liver is another factor. Sanding dust can be washed off your skin, washed out of your clothing and kept pout of your lungs by a $30 respirator. I always sand instead of ever using chemicals for that reason.
Respirators: Don't waste your life on a cheap respirator. Buy a $30 to $40 mask with filters and make certain that it fits tightly. Hold your palms over the cartridges and suck with all your might. If you can get air the mask is useless. If you can smell stuff while sanding or painting the respirator is useless. 
Sniffing paint fumes and eating dist will shorten your life. "What would you pay to be alive for a few extra years," is only part of the question. What would you pay to avoid a miserable and slow death from failing lungs or cancer is the real issue. Wear a really good respirator or be stupid. ( That statement is literal too, because the fumes attack your brain.)

Back to the job at hand>
I like to start out with fine papers and work with the finest grit that my patience will allow. The finer the paper, the longer it will take to remove the old paint. The finer the paper, the less damage you will do when you inadvertently sand through the paint and scratch the gelcoat.

I usually play around for a couple hours with various grits of sandpaper until I find a grit that actually allows me to remove all the paint in a reasonable time period. Here is the order that I would use:
1. Try the high pressure setting on your hose. If all the paint blasts right off polish the boat and go sailing. ( I will not suggest trying the local car wash because that would constitute illegal pollution. I have heard rumors that some people have had success with that sort of thing.)
2. Try sanding the boat with a good old half sheet vibrating sander. For about $100 you can get a sander that will even collect the dust. For about $250 you can get a really good half sheet sander like the Porter Cable tool that we used in our boat shop for the last 20 years. The sanders just seemed to run forever but you are only sanding one boat. If you do buy a cheap sander, make sure you buy a set of $10 hearing muffs. Those cheap sanders vibrate and make your hands itch and they are loud. 
Using the half sheet sander, try some 320 paper and see if you can remove the paint in a reasonable period of time. Work on a square foot and do the math to guess your time.
Important trick: If your goal is to restore the original finish, do not attempt to remove 100% of the paint with the roughest grit. If you start with 180 paper, sand until you begin to see through the paint and then go after the rest of the paint with 240 or 320. If your plan is to repaint the boat, grab some 80 grit and prepare the surface on the first try. I am going to continue this note assuming that restoration is the goal.

3. You are going to have to use sandpaper held I your fingers to get all the paint off the inside of the gunwales. pay attention to the edge of the sandpaper that is leaning against the hull. It is very difficult to sand the paint off the inside of the gunwale without accidentally sanding through the gelcoat about one inch up on the side of the hull. Pay attention and don't make this mistake. One helpful method is to cut the sheets of sandpaper to various sizes instead of always using 1/4 or 1/2 sheet. This method helps to vary the place where the edge of the paper digs into the adjacent surface.

4. Read "How to make your bottom pretty" and it will take you from the removed paint level to the shiny boat.

5. Last thing. You asked about applying gelcoat. Gelcoat is heavy and thick and not particularly suited for refinishing. If you want to have a re-gel coated Laser that is also a good Laser you need to have a number of skills. You need to be able to remove all the old gelcoat without harming the laminate or gouging the boat. you need to understand how to mix and apply the new gelcoat. You need to have a place to spray the messy substance and the equipment for application. You need to apply a sealer to help the gelcoat cure. You need to sand the gelcoat to reestablish a smooth shiny surface. You need to accomplish the sanding and polishing without sanding through the gelcoat or you also need to understand how to gelcoat and blend small areas with out leaving a patched look.
If you are going to repaint a Laser and you are not a really terrific gelcoat technician, I would always suggest painting the boat with a two package urethane paint. ( I usually suggest Interthane Plus sold by Courtaliads )

Good luck

Fred Schroth

Maintenance Page Index

Rebuilding an Old Laser - by Allan Broadribb

It all started on Tuesday, November 14. I'd got up, put on the coffee and, while it was brewing, I strolled down the driveway to pick up the newspaper, The Sarasota Herald Tribune.

So there I was, sitting in the kitchen, scanning the news and drinking fresh coffee. Got through the comics then checked the classified ads to see if there were any 65/66 Mustangs for sale, real cheap, and then the sailboats for sale.

There it was "Laser for sale on trailer $400 firm ..." What do I do? I could use a trailer and the boat might not be dog meat. But... I've already got three sailboards in the garage, a two year old Laser and a 21 foot power boat, not sure that Jocelyne thinks we need another boat!

"Humph, I see there's a Laser for sale here for $400 and it's on a trailer" I said, kind of optimistically. "So why don't you buy it, you'll get that back in charters this winter" was the reply (am I lucky to have a wife so understanding!).

I grabbed the phone, it was about 9 am, if this was any good it wasn't going to be around long. No it wasn't sold, got directions, jumped in the car and got there in 15 minutes. It was still there, not sold.

The hull was blue, faded and chalky from the sun with an off white deck. There were the three spars tied down on the deck, the trailer was kind of rusty and the tires were crackly all over. But the boat wasn't in bad shape at first glance, a few scratches, no holes.

Let's do this right, I thought, check the transom number, there wasn't one, so it was an old boat. Check under the bow eye for the sail number, looks like 1416, yup it's old alright, probably 72 or 73. Check the spars, they're all straight. Check the deck, it's stiff, really stiff, no kidding, no soft spots anywhere, great.

As I'm doing this the owner comes out. "Know anything about Lasers? he says. "Yeah, I've already got one. You want $400?" "Firm" he replies. "I'll take it". So we go into his office where I write a check and he gives me the title and trailer papers while telling me how he's too old for a small boat. I figure I'd better not tell him about masters sailing or he won't sell it! I also got the mahogany board and tiller, all the original lines that came with the boat and... wait for it... an Elvstrom sail... didn't even have sail numbers on it.

We thanked each other, shook hands and I took off with the gear to get a trailer hitch put on the wagon.

An hour later I was back for the boat and had a big decision to make. The trailer wheel bearings were an unknown factor, do I head straight up I-75 at 60 mph or go across town slowly in the traffic? What the heck... I took the highway and was home in 15 minutes with my new toy.

The rest of that day was spent taking off all the fittings, washing it off, rubbing down the hull with rubbing compound then waxing it. Apart from some elbow grease a bunch of new fittings and lines the only major problem was that water came out of the bottom of the mast step nearly as fast as you could put it in the top. So we needed a little glass work.

Wednesday, the next day, I sent off for all the bits and pieces, which included three inspection ports to enable me to glass in the mast step and through bolt all the fittings. The rest of the day was spent sanding down the grab rails, centreboard and rudder and getting on the first coat of varnish as they hung from trees outside the house. The original rudder bolt was interesting, 1/8" diameter through a 1/4" diameter bushing in the wood, no wonder they changed that. By the time they were lightly sanded and had a second coat of varnish on the blades were starting to look great.

Thursday, the box of bits showed up, so I cut three holes for inspection ports with a jig saw. Old blocks of Styrofoam flotation inside, nice and heavy from water absorption at the edges, I knew I'd forgotten something, plastic water bottles for flotation. How do you get big blocks of Styrofoam through a 6" diameter hole, you don't. You spend about two hours with a saw inside the boat, working with one hand. By the time you're finished your knuckles are in great shape from hitting the edge of the hole in the boat. That's enough for that day apart from putting another coat of varnish on the woodwork.

Friday, I bought some more supplies, fiberglass mat and resin to fix the mast step, a bunch of new stainless steel screws, nuts bolts and washers to screw down and through bolt all the fittings. Free advice... buy #10 x 1 1/2" screws and #10 x 2" bolts & nuts. Generally speaking they're all too long, but who cares. If I'd have known that, I'd have saved another trip to the store!

I'd put one inspection port by the mast step in order to fix it. It's a hoot trying to clean it up and glass it with one hand. Nevertheless I managed it and did a decent job, if I say so myself. The second port I'd put beside the centerboard slot in order to through bolt the hiking strap and mainsheet block fitting, which is loaded in tension when used. The third went on the deck under the tiller so I could through bolt the rudder fittings and hiking strap fairleads.

You're probably asking yourself at this point what's taking me so long. Well there's other work to do as well, what with Laser sailors phoning the office for information and me having to tell them the story of fixing my new old boat. Then the weekend was loaded with social functions. Friday evening the annual art auction for the Sarasota Sailing Squadron Youth Sailing Program which made about $3000 for the juniors, alright. Saturday, I was race committee for the club regatta and Sunday I was best man at the Commodore's wedding. All relatively unimportant matters compared to fixing your boat, I know, but Jocelyne likes this stuff, so I decided I should really go with her sooner than suffer extreme physical pain, plus the fact she might not say yes when I want to buy another boat!

Monday, I finished up. All new fairleads, aluminum cleats, Harken cam cleats, new hiking strap and a bunch of other stuff. Boy she looked really nice (the boat not Jocelyne!). I guess it was that night we rented Free Willy, an entertaining film about a kid that befriends a whale, everyday stuff. Anyway the kid liberates Willy the whale (which is probably what they would have called the movie thirty years ago, so much for modern marketing) and Willy gets a new lease on life. The point of all this is that I decided I might call the boat Willy, although I'm still undecided because I'm old fashioned and think boats should have female names. Apart from Willy, I like Simone de Boudoir, of course Vinny the Blade isn't bad either. It's one or the other and I'm leaning toward Simone.

So what's next... the trailer. The frames is solid but rusty, the tires are shot, the rims are rusty, the springs are broken and there're no lights. Off we go to the trailer shop, new rims are cheap so buy new ones with tires on, new springs, new lights, nothing you can't fix with a credit card. By dark I'd hit the frame with a wire brush in the electric drill to get off most of the rust, replaced the bearings, put the new springs on, replaced the axle and got a couple of coats of spray paint on it. It looked a lot better.  The rest of my spare time that week went to making supports for the  boat, and deck supports to hold the spars and enable me to double deck my other boat on top.

One thing here, how do you cut the correct hull curve in a piece of wood. You look up how to do it in Dick Tillman's "Laser Sailing for the 1990's". By Saturday morning it was all done, 1416 looked really sharp, shiny blue hull sitting on a black trailer with white wheels and maroon carpet adding.

What's left to do, go sail it. At the time of writing I haven't done this yet, but I'll do so soon.

copyright A.Broadribb

Maintenance Page Index

Repairing the Bailer


Below you will see a really bad drawing of a bailer chute and the bailer housing. There is no pivoting foot piece because, I left out the parts I don't care about for this article.


The "hinge pins" snap into the "hinge jaws."  The two rubber rings hook over the "band hooks" and the "funky towers."


The screw hole is  the shaft through which the single attachment screw slides.  If you don't like my drawing, send me another pone that is more easy to understand and I will post it!!.


If you are repairing your bailer because you pushed the chute out of position... (Usually accomplished by backing the boat off the trailer with the bailer chute open)   Take an extra few seconds to closely inspect the hinge jaws. Sometimes, forcing the hinges out of the jaws cracks those jaws and the bailer will fall apart easily unless you purchase an entire new assembly.

Another way of determining whether you need a new base plate is by checking how easily the hinges snap back together.  if it is really simple to push the pins into the jaws, the pins will also come out easily..

Also, the rubber bands pull pretty hard.  If the chute keeps snapping out and flying across the dock, either you didn't fully seat the hinges or the jaws are broken.

The real truth about the bailer?  They can last forever!!! Keep the rubber bands in good order and ALWAYS look one extra time to MAKE CERTAIN the chute has closed before sliding your boat backwards.

I keep my boat on a dock most of the time and I am usually in a big hurry to get off that dock and go make it to the race on time.  I buy lots of new chutes, a few new housings and I have a big envelope of rubber rings. 

Last?  You cannot seal the screw with too much silicone.  If your boat leaks around the bailer screw, it will leak every time you go sailing.

Remember:   Silicone does not stick to dirt, water or waxed surfaces (unless you don't want it to in which case it will stick to the most expensive surface it can screw up...like your dock, then your butt and then your Mom's car seats)

Maintenance Page Index

Straightening a Bent Centerboard or Rudder

     Laser centerboards and rudders built since the mid seventies are made from structural foam. They have thin steel rods running vertically in the thicker part of the foil and a coat of some sort of cheap enamel over the yellow brown  colored foam. 

The foam is pretty stiff and relatively strong until the temperature of the blade rises to "ouch that's too hot to touch."  Damage to the foam structure  (melting and bubbling) happens about fifty degrees hotter than "ouch."

You must understand the above description to safely fix your bent blades.

I will restate:

a. The blade can be damaged by making it too hot. I don't know how hot and don't need to know. EXCEPT...I sure don't want to damage the blade by overheating it.

b. The blade becomes soft and pliable somewhere around the temperature where I can't stand to touch it.

c. There is a safe working range between too hot to touch and burning the blade. I must work in that temperature range

Once more ....  If I want to bend my blade to a new shape I must get it hot enough to make it pliable and absolutely not make it much hotter than that.

I will get it hot. I will bend it to where I want it and then cool it off while I keep it where I want it.

The actual process is amazingly simple.  My first try was accomplished on the floor of the Carolina Yacht Club clubhouse and it took about 20 minutes to make my horribly bent blades perfect.

1. I went to the local store and bought a $10 Proctor Silex iron. I also bought a half yard remnant of COTTON material that was tightly woven like a bedsheet.

2. I gathered my bent blade, the iron, the sheet and a friend to watch.

3. I sat down on the floor by an electrical outlet and unwrapped the new iron.

4. I placed the centerboard leading edge down between my extended legs.

5. I hung the sheet over the trailing edge of the centerboard

6. I ran the iron over each side of the cloth and then touched the blade.

7. I repeated #6 a lot of times until the blade actually warmed up.

This part is probably very important: I tried from the very start to think about making the heat PENETRATE through the blade. I thought about slow heating and thorough heating so that I would have a pliable blade not just on the surface but well inside the blade. I worried that if I started bending when only the surface was warm enough to bend, the inside part may not be warm enough yet. The stiff part may be very thin and hard pushing might just break that thin layer and my blade would be permanently weakened.

So, I took my time and didn't even THINK about bending the blade until it had been really warm for a long time.

I am not a patient person. A long time is probably four or five minutes.

8. I noticed the blade was bending a bit when I pushed about three pounds of pressure sideways with the iron.

9. I pushed the blade just a bit past where I wanted it and let go.

10. I lifted the sheet off and viewed my board to see how I was doing.

11. I decided I was gaining on the problem.

12. I threw the sheet on and tried heating and pushing the blade until the entire trailing edge was quite pliable.

13. I held the trailing edge against the flat uncarpeted floor. (The leading edge was probably about six inches off the floor.)

14. I observed my progress and reheated and tried again until the board was so perfect I couldn't figure out how else I could possibly make it better.

Total time on the clubhouse floor??  I doubt it took 20 minutes.

Since that experience I have carried the iron and cloth with me to almost every regatta and I have probably used it or loaned it to straighten out a dozen bent blades.

The difference between you doing it and me doing it??  I heard it was possible to use an iron.  You read a complete account of how somebody else did it.  Trust yourself.   You can do it.

Maintenance Page Index

Pronunciation guide: Americanized Schroth rhymes with both. Original German Schroth rhymes with boat

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